Americans protest Trump’s removal of US attorney general
Tens of thousands of protesters across the United States decried Donald Trump’s removal of Jeff Sessions as the country’s attorney general, a move they fear threatens the independence of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections.
Those gathered in cities and towns from Boston to Houston to Seattle said Trump “crossed a red line” when he picked Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general after asking and receiving Sessions’ resignation on Wednesday. Whitaker, a political loyalist, has criticized the special counsel’s probe into possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign. The progressive group Moveon.org organized what it said were hundreds of “Protect Mueller” protests, held outside city halls and federal courthouses, in parks and on downtown streets and university grounds.
With the Massachusetts State House as a backdrop, several thousand people loudly voiced their disapproval of Sessions being forced out. “Enough is enough,” they chanted, and “hands off Robert Mueller.”
People held homemade signs with messages such as “President, not King” and “Not above the law.”
“Our America, Not Trump’s America,” one sign read as people staged demonstrations in New York’s Times Square. Some people wore shirts emblazoned with the words “Rise and Resist.”
In Lafayette Square across from the White House, several protesters in the crowd of several hundred held letters spelling out “Save Mueller” in white lights. They called for the acting attorney general to recuse himself from any involvement in the special counsel’s investigation.
Whitaker has made it known that he is hostile to the probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians and the president obstructed justice.
“Whitaker must recuse and Congress must act to protect the Mueller investigation,” said an organizer of the march outside the White House. Other speakers said Trump thought American voices would be silent after the midterm election and accused the president of attacking the rule of law.
US Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives, a momentous win in the midterm elections that will enable the party to block much of Trump’s agenda and bombard the president with investigations.
The midterms were a tale of two chambers: The Democrats won key House congressional races while Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate.
The election served as a referendum on Trump’s America, and whether Republicans should remain in absolute power in Washington.
Democrats needed to flip 23 seats to take control of the House of Representatives, and early on Wednesday morning hit the 218 needed to win back the chamber from Republicans, breaking oneparty rule in Congress after eight years.
Speaking in Washington, the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, said the party would use its newly won majority to pursue a bipartisan agenda for a country. Pelosi said Americans have all “had enough of division.”
Earlier in the evening, the White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, sought to downplay Democratic gains, saying: “Maybe you get a ripple, but I certainly don’t think that there’s a blue wave.”
And despite the losses, Trump in a tweet early on Wednesday called the midterm results a “Big Victory.” But Democrats racked up upsets across the country. Incumbent Randy Hultgren lost a traditionally Republican suburban district to Lauren Underwood, a 31-year-old African American nurse who ran a campaign focused on healthcare. Military veteran Max Rose pulled off an unexpected win in a conservative district on Staten Island in New York, and the deep red state of Oklahoma elected Democrat Kendra Horn to a district centered around Oklahoma City. Elsewhere, Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland made history by becoming the first Native American women elected to Congress. Alexandria Ocasio-cortez of New York became the first woman in her 20s to win a seat and was joined by 29-year-old Abby Finkenauer in Iowa.
It was a record year for women, with at least 90 winning their elections on Tuesday. The majority of them were Democrats, and at least 28 of them were elected to the House for the first time. Voters also sent Congress its first two Muslim women – Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota.
However, Republicans extended their control of the Senate, paving the way for a divided Congress.
The Washington Post, Voice of America and the Guardian contributed to this story.